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News/Business. Chris Hansen, Hoda Kotb, Josh Mankiewicz. (2012) Three formerly middle-class families face poverty for the first time. (CC) (Stereo)

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Diane 23, Joyce 19, Carmen 12, Boulder 8, Us 8, America 7, Ann 6, Colorado 5, Air Wick 3, Hhs 3, U.s. 3, Lincoln 3, Ann Huggins 3, Romney 2, Diane Windemuller 2, Lester Holt 2, Costco 2, New Lysol Power & Free 2, Olay 2, Frank Alexander 2,
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  NBC    Dateline NBC    News/Business. Chris Hansen, Hoda Kotb, Josh Mankiewicz.   
   (2012) Three formerly middle-class families face poverty for...  

    October 1, 2012
    2:00 - 3:00am PDT  

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i just remember sitting there going i cannot believe i'm having to do this. this sucks. >> they are your neighbors, your family, your friends. >> the balance remaining on your claim is zero dollars. >> the new middle class poor. hidden behind the closed doors of suburbia. >> this is the face of food stamps. my children are the face of medicaid. >> they once enjoyed the good life. >> the jobs were plentiful. >> now they are just one payday from disaster. >> this check doesn't add up to these bills. >> this is the story of their painful trip down. >> this crisis has really taken a toll on your relationship. >> i said there's the door. >> what they had to do to
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survive. >> you don't like coming back here. >> i hate coming back here. i hate it. >> and their fight to get back up. >> the fact that i'm actually out there working again, i just felt like i was waking up again. it's very exciting. >> "america now: lost in suburbia." thanks for joining us. i'm lester holt. feeling poorer these days? you're not alone. as you may have heard, according to a government study between 2007 and 2010 the median america family lost almost 40% of its net worth. many american families are falling out of the middle class and straight into poverty. in fact, for the first time there are more poor people living in the suburbs, the traditional home of the middle class, than in cities. we've been following three families as they confronted poverty for the first time. we've been with them on job searches and welfare offices, in their kitchens as they face
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losing their homes and their futures. yet never losing themselves. diane windemuller is the kind of do it all mom you often meet in the affluent suburbs of boulder, colorado. >> we're going to get some groceries. pasta, rice, cereal, a gallon of milk possibly, and eggs. >> she's an ambitious human resource executive with a masters degree, a husband, three kids, and a comfortable home. so what is diane doing here? >> you're entitled to the government commodities today. could you use rice crispies? >> yes. >> at a food pantry. >> i never imagined we would be in this kind of predicament and for this long. it's so scary there's so many unknowns. >> the windemullers didn't see it coming. three years ago when they moved from michigan to the boulder suburbs.
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>> i felt that it was kind of like going to mecca because the economy was apparently better over here and the jobs were plentiful. >> their new life began well, indeed. jon an avid runner found work as a business consultant with an athletic company. diane found an executive position in human resources. together they were earning about $120,000 a year. >> and it just gave us some stability, sense of security that we could pay for everything and have stuff left over. comfortable for us. >> but not an extravagant lifestyle. >> no. but nice for us. >> nice meant two cars including a new suv. it also meant three months worth of savings in the bank just in case. >> something happens, you need ta money there to fall back on if you need it. >> sensible people leading sensible lives.
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just like joyce and lincoln welch. >> our life was pretty simple. but comfortable. we were able to do the vacations. we were able to go visit family. couldn't go out and buy new mercedes, but we did definitely have a comfortable middle class life. >> the welchs and their three children live in superior, colorado. a town money magazine named one of the top 20 best places to live in america just last year. >> it is the most amazing place in the country to live. we have a real sense of community within our town. i feel safe here. >> joyce's husband lincoln is a mechanical engineer who for the last seven years learned close to six figures designing printers at a tech company. joyce had quit working years earlier to care full-time for her youngest michael who was born with a rare chromosome disorder.
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>> he's had various procedures. and we're looking at at least two more. >> michael? >> that's you. >> michael's medical bills with out of pocket costs of up to $30,000 a year didn't leave much in the family savings account. but as long as lincoln had had his job, the family was financially safe. >> we weren't struggling. there was never a concern about how are we going to pay this bill. it was just okay, you know, here's the bill. pay it. >> and then in november 2011, joyce's safe and sensible life came crashing down. >> i got a phone call from lincoln saying i have some bad news. and he said they did another round of layoffs. and he was in this round. i mean, you've got three kids to take care of. you've got a house, a dog, two fish. you go into survival mode. what do i have to do to survive? >> diane and jon's own fight for
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survival began in april 2011 when diane says she lost her executive job because of a work place dispute. but she wasn't worried at first. >> i interviewed over a period of five weeks for one position. but then it came down to me and one other person. i was told i was not the one. >> after the first no you should rationalize it. another job coming along. get the next one or the next one. then that didn't happen. >> exactly. >> to make matters worst, jon's business consultant job had been eliminated four months earlier. he had been able to find a sales job at an athletics store with benefits but with a much lower salary. then in june 2011 their youngest daughter was hospitalized with a rare liver disease. she recovered but the family suddenly owed thousands of dollars in medical bills. so much for their savings. >> the ability to live where we live, pay our bills, keep our
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lost his engineering job. now with no savings and her son's unpaid medical bills piling up, she is forced to do something she never thought she would have to. ask for help. >> so what ideally would be enough to make you breathe the most easily? >> if we had enough to pay half of the rent. i just remember sitting there going i cannot believe i'm having to do this. this sucks. we can try to find a nice word for it, but at the end of the day it just sucks. >> it's a hard time right now. >> joyce is speaking to sarah nelson the program director at the sister carmen community center. a non-profit organization that has traditionally helped low income families in east boulder county. in 2010 only 4% of sister carmen's clients were from well
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to do boulder suburbs like superior. but by the end of 2011, that share had exploded to a whopping 22%. so your demand went up from 2010 to 2011. the financial crisis started in 2008, why now? why are we seeing it now? >> i think especially when it comes to middle class families that their resources are drained. they've utilized all of their savings, retirement funds, got as much help from family and friends as they possibly can. and we're their last resort. >> and it isn't just hang here. for the first time in u.s. history, there are more poor people living in the suburbs than in cities. among them millions of formerly middle class families who are relying on safety net services for the very first time. >> when a number of families access that financial assistance from us, they meet with a support services coordinator that kind of helps explore how
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we can help support them so they can reach self-sufficiency and will no longer need services. >> it's all about writing a road map in self-sufficiency. >> yes. >> they are able to help with next month's rent. and with the holidays around the corner, some christmas gifts for the kids. >> i'm grateful for it, i really am. but there's also an unbelievable sadness because i have to ask for help. i want to be able to do it on my own. i want to be the one who's able to help somebody else, not the one who needs to ask for help. >> joyce's emotional decent into poverty is just beginning. and there will be many more moments of sadness and humiliation to come. >> i was laid off two weeks ago. >> this is ann huggins. we met her that very same day just two offices down the hall
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from joyce. ann was making her first visit to a sister carmen counselor. >> if i get unemployment based on what my income was will only be $200 a week. >> since she lost her job at a nonprofit solar power company, ann has been in a panic about how to afford her teenage daughter's diabetes medication. >> i need to get a job as quick as possible with benefits. >> ann knows how tough it will be to find that job. her husband, an aircraft mechanic, lost his in 2008 and has worked only sporadically since. the couple blew through their savings and 401(k)s. and are now separated. how much of the financial stress is a part of tearing you two apart? >> it became a huge problem in the marriage. it kind of overshadowed everything else. >> as a single mom, ann knows she is now five times more likely to end up below the poverty line than if she were married.
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her in-laws are helping to pay the mortgage, but otherwise ann needs all the help she can get. and she doesn't hesitate to ask. but that doesn't make it any easier. >> i'm sure this feels like it's stepping back, but keep the focus on moving forward, right? >> right. >> it's okay to receive. sometimes we just have to do it. you have to put emotions on hold and do what you have to do and be okay with it. >> ann's counselor andrea helps her apply for a state health insurance program for her daughter and arranges to help pay january's electricity, water, and medical bills. >> you know this is temporary. >> good. thank you. >> you'll be able to get back on your feet. >> diane and jon also hope their situation will be short lived. as the sole provider, jon is feeling the pressure. he loves his job at the athletic store, but his salary is not
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nearly enough to pay all the bills. >> from a traditional mind-set of guys, we're supposed to go out there kill it, drag it, bring it back in. so as a man i feel like i'm not taking care of the family. >> in july 2011, after three months out of work and with her savings exhausted, diane reluctantly turns to hhs. boulder county's department of housing and human services. >> they said are you needing some rent assistance? how are you doing with your housing needs? and so i told them things are getting really tight. >> was it an out of body experience to be in a conversation like that about your finances with strangers? we're talking public assistance here. >> yes. i think we had gotten to a certain point we needed that kind of help. and you get to a point where you're willing to become vulnerable in that way. >> but diane is shocked by what hhs suggests next. >> they said by the way here's a list of all the food pantries in
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town. you can go and access those. i was like no, i don't want to do that. you know, there's a stigma about that. i'm not going to do that. >> diane will soon realize she has no choice. coming up, a secret visit to a food pantry. >> i put my hair in a ponytail and wore my glasses and tried to walk as far away as possible. and i walked to see if there was
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just is few weeks before christmas 2011, reality is staring single mom ann huggins squarely in the face. no job, little savings, and most worrisome of all, no health insurance for a daughter with diabetes. so ann has begun borrowing money from family to stockpile
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medication. >> this is more than a month's worth. i have some other medications here. >> ann is anxiously awaiting to hear whether her daughter will qualify for low cost insurance. >> hello? this is she. thank you so much. wow. okay. all right. bye. that's fantastic. yea. so my daughter has temporary insurance coverage. woo! god, that's a huge load off. i've relied on my family to cover medical expenses, and now i don't have to. >> ann is about to turn 50. this is not where she imagined she would be. but at least her daughter is safe for now.
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>> so in the last four years we've had 100,000 applications for assistance in boulder county alone. this is just too many numbers to not have a mass intervention. >> frank alexander is the director of boulder county's housing and human services. when the recession hit in 2008, he foresaw the deluge of struggling middle class families who would turn to his department for help. >> safety nets are built to catch people right before they hit the pavement. if we can get people before they fall, we can serve people in a lot better way and don't have to just clean up the mess on the street. >> but just as hhs began to create new programs to help unemployed family get back on their feet, the federal government cut hhs's funding by 20% of the annual budget. so hhs turned to the citizens of boulder county with a
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controversial proposal. a property tax hike. >> we asked the community for five years of support. so it's a five-year tax. it equals about 21 dollars per year on a $300,000 home. >> ballot initiative 1-a came to a vote in november 2010. surprisingly, it passed. in its first year, 1-a raised $5 million. one of its beneficiaries, the windemuller family. with diane still unemployed, their rental assistance is extended until march 2012. but in return, hhs demands proof that the family is now living on a strict budget. >> they wanted accountability for sure. and they asked us to cut back and cut back and cut as much as possible. >> lord, we thank you for this day. amen. >> so the family eliminates vacations, dinners out, and
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afterschool activities for the kids. they cancel their cable, downgrade their internet service, stop using credit cards, and start shopping for clothes in shoplift stothrift s decide to keep the suv. is the suv a reminder of old days? >> yes. solid middle class people. >> that solid middle class life feels like a distant memory now. so to save money, diane musters up the nerve to do what just a few months ago was unthinkable. she goes to her local food pantry. >> and i tried to park as far away as possible. then i walked around the building to see if there was a back way in and out. i put my hair in a ponytail and i wore sunglasses. >> like you were doing something
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illicit. >> right. it was that uncomfortable. >> diane makes it through that visit. but she is mortified the day she can't afford a babysitter and has to bring her kids. >> i don't want them to remember this time. >> diane? >> hi, how are you? >> i don't want them to remember a food pantry in their life. how are they going to process that? what's going on, when is our life going to feel normal again? and mom and dad haven't really pulled it together yet. >> in fact, they haven't. and now it's getting serious. diane and jon are fighting more and more. their arguments get so bad they decide to go to a marriage therapist. >> this crisis has really take an toll on your relationship. >> it has. >> it's a glimpse into a place rarely visited by tv news cameras.
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a place where diane and jon's fears, anxieties, and resentments all come tumbling out. >> just a couple of nights ago we were at each other's throats about things. and i think i said there's the door. this mess did not happen overnight and it's not going to get cured overnight. but people panic. that's why the situation is so volatile. and when you're stressed and you have all this worry and there's all this fear, how are you going to pay the bills, how are you going to keep the lights on, how are you going to get food. >> getting our kids to college. >> yeah. retirement, college, all those things are totally on hold right now. and that's got to be very disillusioning. >> for diane and jon, the upcoming year is shaping up to be an uphill battle. for joyce too. she has just received lincoln's first unemployment check. the family's only source of
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income now. >> looking at the unemployment check here and looking at the bills here. and this check doesn't add up to these bills. he's got to find a job. >> needing every penny for rent, joyce puts on a behave face and heads to the sister carmen food pantry. >> i can make banana bread. my kids love that. that's not too bad for them. >> to make the food pantry experience more dignifies, sister carmen designed a space to mimic a supermarket. but there is only so much the center can do. >>there's no mistaking this for safeway. it's a food bank. >> exactly. i'm blessed to have sister carmen. >> but you don't like coming here. >> i don't like coming back here. i hate it. i want to feed my kids what my kids will eat and not have to worry about okay but this is all we've got. >> so each time you come here
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you hope it's the last. >> yes. i don't want to come back. yet i know i'll be here again. >> christmas is only two days away. as joyce wraps the presents that sister carmen donated to her kids, she struggles to keep up the facade that everything is okay. >> i'm trying to stay above water, not to drown, not to sink. >> joyce doesn't realize it yet, but a storm is coming. coming up, is the welch family about to be homeless? >> there was a moment i went, my joy is gone. my love for life is gone. >> when "america now: lost in suburbia" continues. ahhh, i love how clean and healthy my mouth is right now. i wish i could keep it this way. [ male announcer ] even after a dental cleaning... plaque quickly starts to grow back. but new crest pro-health clinical plaque control toothpaste can help. it not only reduces plaque... it's also clinically proven... to help keep plaque from coming back. plus, it works in these other
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hello? >> hey, joyce. it's sarah at sister carmen. i have good news. >> 2012 starts out well for joyce. >> i just talked to the housing stabilization program and she says that you would be eligible. >> yea. >> through ballot initiative 1-a, the welch family has just qualified for a program that will pay their full rent for three months. long enough, joyce hopes, for her husband to find work. but a month later in february lincoln still hasn't made any progress. >> i was expecting a very, very quick transition from one job to another. i was thinking this is going to be a week, two weeks. maybe three weeks. not even close. >> lincoln's unemployment check is $2,000 a month. less than 1/3 of what the family used to make. it's official now. the welch family has fallen
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below the u.s. poverty line. one of at least 3.5 million suburbanites since 2007. >> it'll be easy. >> over the years, joyce has learned to b strong for her son michael who suffers from a debilitating chromosomeal disorder. but the hard part was when it ends. she has to show the medicaid card. >> when they say medicaid, it sounds like the loudest voice in the room and everyone knows your kid has medicaid. i'm grateful for it, but it's still so humbling. >> but that's not the only help the family needs. they're also now on food stamps.
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here joyce takes her first trip to a costco with her food stamps debit card. >> i never thought i would be applying for food stamps. i never thought i wouldn't be able to feed my kids on my own. >> in 2008, fewer than 7,000 people receive food assistance in boulder county. today that number has exploded to almost 17,000. a 150% increase. joyce knows she's not alone. but she feels like it. >> we live in superior, colorado. and you feel like you're the only person in this amazing place to live that's walking around with a card for food stamps. >> i have my ebc card. >> i've got this card and i know it's supposed to look like a doesn't card and i know nobody's supposed to understand what this is. but everybody knows. it's a card. and it's food stamps. >> thank you. >> have a wonderful day. >> you too. >> joyce has intentionally chosen a costco a bit farther from home. less chance of bumping into
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someone she knows. >> i feel like i judge myself enough about it, i don't really need anybody else judging me about it. >> how well have you hidden your personal crisis? >> up until this here, really well. we don't hang out with friends as much. we don't have people over as much. it's not necessarily hiding what's going on with us. it's more withdrawing so that people don't know. it's this dirty little secret because everybody in superior is supposed to be able to buy their new car. supposed to be able to buy the bigger house. what we don't talk about is people who struggle. it's taken a toll. taken a real toll. >> taken an emotional toll. >> a mental, emotional, physical toll. there was a moment i went my joy is gone. my love for life, my ability to continue moving forward is gone. >> and then things get worse.
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on february 14th, valentine's day, joyce's landlord notifies them he's decided to sell the house they've lived in for seven years. now lincoln is really feeling the heat. >> we're going to have to find another place. most people don't like to rent to people who aren't employed. i can't blame them for that. that's an additional pressure. >> it's like come on. can i just have a break? can i have six months of nothing chaotic or negative or no more shoes dropping. just no mountains to climb. just easy. >> my name is diane windemuller and i left a message for you several days ago regarding the vice president of human resources opening that you have. >> after nine fruitless months of searching for work, diane is barely hanging on. >> it's really difficult. it's tough. i mean, and i've been on the other side where i've had to tell people no.
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and, yeah. now i get to experience it too. >> so far diane has not seriously considered anything less than a full-time executive position. >> it's a difficult situation for me to talk about part-time work. people make judgments about that and maybe won't see me as the professional executive that i'd like to be seen as. >> diane wants to be patient knowing that a job like the one she has will get the family out of trouble immediately. at the same time she has lost patience with her husband jon. she thinks he should be more ambitious and find something better than his current job. >> i always feel like you're selling yourself so short. you're like, oh i can do this. you know? it just feels like that. it bugs me. it seems like he's unable to move forward. and the lack of being able to move forward equals to me lack of caring, lack of love. >> maybe i'm not the person that you want me to be, but i'm trying.
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>> i appreciate that. >> so, you know, i think in the end you need to determine if that's going to be good enough. >> is that an ultimatum? >> no. i'm just making a statement that i'm trying. and i feel like i'm upholding some of my end of the bargain. i'm employed. i have benefits and i'm bringing in a paycheck. but, you know, it takes two to tango. we got to work as a team. >> i have submitted my resume for some other things. >> but as diane meets with her hhs counselor, she knows the pressure is on her as well. if she can't find a job, the family is just two months away from potential disaster. >> my unemployment benefits may be running out shortly. and that may be the end of march. >> and that march deadline seems to be kind of a big one. that's when your deadline is for
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this program as well. >> yes, the rental assistance. yes. >> all coming to a head. >> we've got to prepare for the worst and hope for the best. >> the worst will come easier than expected. >> the balance remaining on your claim is zero dollars. coming up, big changes ahead for diane. >> i have to make some hard choices. >> and she does. >> i think that i'll be working from 7:00 until 2:00 in the morning. >> when "dateline" continues. 2@
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i'm just trying not to dwell on things that are so painful and difficult right now. >> i don't think anybody even can start to understand unless you've been through it. >> on a february evening in a sister carmen conference room, ann huggins meets two other single moms like her. >> i hate to cook. but now we can't go out anymore. i've made more home made meals in the last two months than all the years combined before them. >> congratulations. you're learning to cook. >> it was like looking in a mirror. we were instant friends. i was seeing they're struggling and they're making it. and i can struggle and make it. >> ann has been networking and
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developing leads since the day she lost her job. >> you may want to do some self-exploration. >> sister carmen provided a resume coach free of charge to prepare her for job interviews. she has gone to several job fairs and in january interviewed for an administrative assistant position in denver. >> hello? >> the office supervisor calls her back with a job. it's a temporary three-month assignment with no benefits and a two-hour daily commute. but it could lead to a full-time position. >> seems like you're looking forward to retaining somebody permanently in that position and the company needs somebody that that position. great. i did feel that i had to take that job because that job is available now. i don't have the luxury of looking around any longer. i don't have the luxury of saying no. thank you for that opportunity.
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>> for ann, compromise is the word. ten months into her own job search, diane isn't ready to compromise yet. she still wants that executive title and the security it will bring. these days her mental break from the pressure is her monthly volunteer session at her church's soup kitchen. >> even in my difficult circumstance, i still have the ability to help other people, so i should do that. and i can. it gives me energy. it gives me hope. and i need lots of hope right now. >> for claim and payment status, press two. >> but suddenly a new crisis is brewing. >> the balance remaining on your claim is zero dollars. thank you for calling the colorado unemployment insurance offices. good-bye. >> diane's unemployment benefits have seemed to run out a month before expected. she calls the case manager. >> she says well, you've run out
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hun. she called me sweetie and was chomping on gum. she said you should have paid better attention to things. >> there's just one month left on the family's rental assistance. >> are you guys willing to consider an additional month or is that a no? >> i can't promise. more things are either going to have to be cut back or find other ways to supplement your income. with the unemployment running out. eight months of assistance have been, i think, a lot. and i haven't really seen as many changes for moving forward as i guess i expected. >> right. okay. >> our caseworker kind of confronted me and said you have to look at your budget more closely. you have to make cuts. you have to make more sacrifices. we've given you all this assistance and what has it gained you? >> i feel like at this point, might be living outside of your
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means a little bit. >> but i'm just one job away from normal, i said. and she said but that job hasn't come yet. >> no unemployment benefits, no rental assistance. at home jon runs the numbers. >> we would be in a deficit situation by -- yeah. probably $1500 to $1800. in the short-term we need to create income. >> jon thinks that now it is diane who has to step up and find a job. any job. their marriage therapist agrees. >> i think that's an underlying issue for you, diane. i think there's a reluctance on your part to do something that is beneath you. you're highly educated. you have a lot of experience. and i think there is a bit of inner snob in you. >> if you were to get a full-time job tomorrow that only paid what i'm earning at the running company, you know what?
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we would pay our bills. >> we would? >> we would pay our bills. >> for diane, jon's sudden assertiveness appears to be a wake up call. >> i was hoping that things would come together sooner. but they haven't. so here we sit. and, you know k, i have so growp and make some hard choices. >> hopefully it's very temporary. >> jon has taken on an additional part-time job with an office cleaning company. diane agrees to share the workload. her first shift is scheduled for the same evening as one of her professional networking meetings. it's not something diane ever imagined would happen. but come 6:00 p.m., the former executive turns into a cleaning lady. >> so i think that i'll be working for 7:00 -- around 7:00 until 2:00 in the morning.
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>> it's 4:00 a.m. when diane returns to her car. >> i don't know. it's kind of surreal. it just didn't feel like me. and it didn't feel like my life. i kept thinking there are people that are actually working jobs during the day in these offices when they're empty at night. i was thinking i'd like to be on the other side. i'd like to have a day job. it's disappointing for sure. for myself and i'm sure, you know, my parents, jon's parents, everyone. i feel like i'm letting a lot of people down. >> diane has hit rock bottom. she's angry at herself and angry that she and jon have let it come this far. >> working in these kind of positions that, you know, can't sustain our life. it feels like a black hole that we're going into and something
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that we can't climb out of again. >> in her anxiety, diane lashes out at jon who desperately calls their marriage therapist for advice. the therapist suggests a trial separation. and when diane shows up for an individual session a couple days later, the therapist has the papers ready. >> i was just in complete shock that it had come to that and that she had to offer that to me as a solution and that things had really gotten that bad. and it just hit me hard in the face. >> the papers sit on the night stand. >> right. i don't look at them. >> but you know they're sitting there. >> yes. >> constant reminder of where you are and where things could be? >> yeah. and what am i going to choose now? coming up, finally some good news. >> it gives me new encouragement, more energy. it gives me the drive that i need to continue on. >> when "america now: lost in suburbia" continues.
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ann three months at her denver job is almost up. and so far she has not received a full-time offer. >> hi, it's nice to meet you. >> so she continues to interview. including at the sister carmen community center. which has an opening for someone to manage its hundreds of volunteers. >> so we'll be in touch at the end of this week or early next. >> hello. >> hi, ann. it's suzanne crawford. how are you? >> hi, i'm fine. >> so i'm calling with a bit of good news. we would love to offer you the volunteer manager position. >> well, thank you very much. that's fantastic. >> do you want to get the two of you guys together? >> the job is part-time and the salary is not quite enough to
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overcome her financial troubles, but in ann's new normal, it's a positive step. >> i'm not out of the woods yet, but things do change. i'm planting seeds. >> more importantly, ann says, the job will give her a chance to give back to a place that has been her lifeline these past few months. >> here it comes. >> it's a bittersweet 50th birthday for ann. but it comes with a gift that cannot be measured with money. a new perspective on the importance of family, friendship, and a willingness to ask for help. >> i think that, you know, our humanity is what we show to each other. that's really how we connect. it's not necessarily about, hey, i've got this car. you've got that car. isn't that great. it's really more about are you kids fed? are they sleeping at night? and how are you doing? if you need help, i'm here for you. >> and that's the same motto that drives the staff of sister
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carmen and government officials like hhs's frank alexander as they struggle to manage. >> when we look at data we've seen an erosion of the middle class. and our hope for many families is they do transition back to some sort of self-sufficiency for themselves. >> how much can we afford? can we as a society continue to spend this type of money to catch people that when they're falling everywhere we look? >> i don't think we can afford to not invest in our communities. if we don't, we'll have a generation stuck in poverty. >> you are an excellent packer. check out you. >> with just a month left before they have to move out of their home, the welch family still has not found another place to live. joyce has stopped hiding her family's poverty and
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begrudgingly accepted she's just another victim in an economic crisis beyond her control. and that, she says, is nothing to be ashamed of. even if you live in superior, colorado. >> people like me are on food stamps. it's people who want to go to work and can't find work and don't have an alternative. this is the reality for more and more people in america. this is the face of food stamps. my children are the face of medicaid. this is the reality. >> the family can survive on rental assistance and unemployment for a few more months. and lincoln is still optimistic he can find a job and get his family back on their feet. >> do you ever fear in quiet moments that this is life as, you know, you're going to know it? >> i do fear that. and i think that that strengthens my resolve. i will fight whatever i have to fight. and i will not stay here. >> reality for jon and diane
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could be a life without one another. their therapist has suggested a trial separation. but they decide they are not ready to call it quits. >> i think it kind of brought us together a little bit, ironically. we started using the term we more. we said we can't do this. you know, there's too much at stake. we are stronger than that. we don't have to run away from it. so we're staying with each other. >> i think that that speaks volumes to your relationship and that you still -- you aren't done. you are pulling together. >> thanks. >> yeah, thank you. >> it was a wakeup call for sure. >> and there is one more thing. >> i'm very, very proud of you, diane, for getting out of your comfort zone. you know, jumping in and going back to work. >> yes, diane has found a job. not as a cleaning lady, but in a temporary administrative position at crocs an
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international shoe retailer. it's not an executive job. but for a suddenly energized diane, it's a start. >> the fact i'm actually out there working again, that's very symbolic. it gives me more encouragement, more energy. it gives me the drive that i need to continue on in my job search. >> diane and jon like joyce and lincoln like ann are determined to become self-sufficient once more. one step at a time. they owe it to themselves, they say, but most of all they owe it to their children. if this ends the way we all hope it does, it's a pretty good lesson in this for them. >> if they have adversity in their life, they can look back to this and say mom and dad pulled through. they persevered. >> that's all for now. i'm lester holt. thanks for joining us.
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24 this morning on "meet the press," mitt romney needs a game changer. is the first presidential debate it? his back now against the wall, romney is behind in all of our background polls. the candidate presses for a rebound. >> we do not want four more years of where we've been. i represent a different path. president obama meantime tries to seize the moment as early voting begins around the country, offering a closing argument. >> when i took office, we were losing nearly 800,000 jobs a month and were mired in a rut. today i believe that as a nation we are moving forward again. >> this morning, the state of the race. a debate preview, and a look at the issues that will sway undecided voters. with us, republican governor of new jersey, the keynoter at the gop convention, chris christie. and for the obama campaign, the architect of his 2008 run, now white house senior adviser david
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plouffe. finally, insights and analysis from our political roundtable. joining us, conservative activist and founder of the faith and freedom coalition ralph reed. former democratic governor of pennsylvania ed rendell. anchor of bbc's "world news america" katty kay. and our chief white house correspondent and political director chuck todd. good sunday morning. with both sides in full preparation mode for wednesday's first presidential debate, the struggling romney campaign is recalibrating his message to better connect with voters on the economy and to attack the president on his handling of the latest foreign policy crisis, the evolving explanation of what exactly happened in libya when our u.s. ambassador was killed more than two weeks ago on 9/11.